Foster Air Force Base: Wikis

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Foster Air Force Base

Tactical Air Command Emblem.png

Part of Tactical Air Command
Located near: Victoria, Texas
Victoria-27jan1996.jpg
USGS 1996 airphoto
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 28°51′09″N 96°55′07″W / 28.8525°N 96.91861°W / 28.8525; -96.91861
Built 1941
In use 1941-1945; 1953-1950
Foster AFB is located in Texas
Foster AFB
Location of Foster Air Force Base, Texas
A twelve-ship formation over the Guadalupe River in the vicinity of Foster Field, Texas, Summer 1942
North American F-100s of the 450th Fighter-Day Group, about 1956. North American F-100C-5-NA Super Sabre 54-1775 identifiable. This aircraft was lost in combat during the Vietnam War when assigned to the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phu Cat Air Base on 2 Aug 1968, its pilot was recovered.
Boeing B-KB50D Superfortress 48-123 of the 622d Air Refueling Squadron (4505th ARW) carrying out first triple-point refueling operation with three North American F-100C Super Sabres (54-1825, 53-1774, 54-1848) of the 451st Fighter-Day Squadron (322d FDG), 1956
For the civil use of this facility and airport information, see Victoria Regional Airport

Foster Air Force Base (1941-1945, 1952-1959) is a former United States Air Force base, located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) east-northeast of Victoria, Texas. A flying training airfield during World War II, it was part of Tactical Air Command during the Cold War as a tactical fighter and command base.

Contents

History

Named in memory of Lt. Arthur L. Foster, a United States Army Air Corps instructor killed in a crash at Brooks Field, Texas in 1925. Foster's son received his training and commission at the base in the spring of 1942.[1]

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Previous names

  • Established as Victoria Army Airfield on 15 May 1941
  • Foster Army Airfield, 15 Jan 1942-31 Oct 1945
  • Foster Air Force Base, 1 May 1952-1 Jan 1959

Major Commands to Which Assigned

  • Air Forces Training Command, 15 May 1941
Gulf Coast Training Center
Redesignated: Army Air Forces Flying Training Command, 15 Mar 1942
Redesignated: Army Air Forces Training Command, 31 Jul 1943-31 Oct 1945
  • Air Training Command, 1 May 1952-30 Jun 1954
  • Tactical Air Command, 1 Jul 1954-1 Jan 1959

Major Units Assigned

  • 77th Flying Training Wing (Advanced Single Engine), 15 May 1941-31 Oct 1945
  • 2540th Army Air Forces Base Unit, 1 Jan-31 Oct 1945
  • 3580th Pilot Training Wing (Basic, Single-Engine), 1 May 1952-30 Jun 1954
  • 450th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 Jul 1954
Redesignated: 450th Fighter-Day Wing, 8 Mar 1955
Redesignated: 450th Tactical Fighter Wing, 1 Jul-18 Dec 1958
  • 322d Fighter-Day Group, 1 Jul 1954-18 Nov 1957
Not operational, 24 Oct-18 Nov 1957
  • Nineteenth Air Force, 8 Jul 1955-1 Sep 1958

Major aircraft assigned

Operational history

World War II

Foster Air Force Base was established as an advanced single-engine flying school for fighter pilots six miles northeast of Victoria, in the spring of 1941. A local funding campaign led by E. J. Dysart the previous spring had raised some $17,000 to locate the base at Victoria, Texas as an economic asset. Subsequent government construction cost more than $4 million. [1]

The airfield was activated on 15 May 1941 by the Air Forces Training Command. The mission of the new airfield was the training of aviation cadets in the advanced phase of flying training. Foster was assigned to the AAF Gulf Coast Training Center, with the Army Air Force Pilot School (Advanced Single-Engine) activated (phase 3 pilot training). In this phase, the cadets flew fighters and fighter-bombers. Pilot wings were awarded upon graduation and were sent on to group combat training by First, Second, Third or Fourth Air Force. Graduates were usually graded as Flight Officers (Warrant Officers); cadets who graduated at the top of their class were graded as Second Lieutenants.[2]

The initial class of cadets arrived in September 1941 and served under Lt. Col. Warren R. Carter, the first commander. WACs began to arrive the following May. Cadets used the North American AT-6 Texan and Curtis P-40 Warhawk trainers to drill in aerial gunnery, though actual practice took place on ranges located on Matagorda Island and Matagorda Peninsula. In addition to these bombing ranges on Matagorda, at least ten auxiliary landing fields and a sub-base (Aloe AAF, built in 1943 5 miles southwest of Victoria) was controlled by Foster for emergency landings and aircraft overflow. [1]

On 8 January 1943, the War Department constituted and activated the 77th Flying Training Wing (Advanced Single-Engine) at Foser and assigned it to the the AAF Central Flying Training Command.

Many pilots returning from overseas service were taught to become aerial gunnery instructors at Foster Field. In addition to the pilot training mission, Foster also served as a medical evacuation facility for injured veterans. There were several housing facilities located on the base.[1]

On 1 January 1945 the 2540th Army Air Forces Base Unit took control of the ground station administrative functions. As World War II wound down Foster Field took control of several smaller facilities as they were being closed. On 1 September 1945 the mission at the airfield changed from pilot training to becoming a separation station. Foster Field itself was inactivated on 31 October 1945, being placed in standby status. On 15 November the facility was completely closed and eventually the Foster Field site returned to its prewar owners, the Buhler and Braman estates.[2] [1]

Cold War

Air Training Command

The Air Force retained a recapture right, which it exercised at Foster and at many other former bases to accommodate the Korean War training surge. In the fall of 1951 the government purchased 1,376 acres at the site, and Foster Field was reactivated for single-engine jet training.[1] Foster Field was designated Foster Air Force Base on an inactive status on 1 Sep 1952, by Department of the Air Force General Order No. 38, dated 29 Aug 1952.[1]

The facility was assigned to the United States Air Force Air Training Command. The 3580th Pilot Training Wing (Basic, Single-Engine) was assigned to the base on 1 May 1952 as the primary training organization as well as the base host unit. The first cadets graduated in March 1953 after three months of duty using T-28 Trojan propeller and T-33 Shooting Star jet trainers.[2] [1]

After the end of combat in Korea, Air Training Command returned various combat crew training responsibilities to Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command in 1954. The command was able to do this because bases like Greenville AFB and Laredo AFB had acquired sufficient facilities to assume their full share of the pilot training load. Various bases were transferred to the combat commands, among these was the transfer of Foster AFB to TAC on 1 July 1954[2]

Tactical Air Command
Emblem of the 450th Fighter-Day Wing
Emblem of the 322d Fighter-Day Group

Foster Air Force Base was designated a permanent military installation on 1 July 1954. Col. Frank L. Dunn became the new commander, replacing Col. C. C. Sonnkalb. [1]

Under Tactical Air Command, the 450th Fighter-Bomber Wing, was activated at Foster, on 1 July 1954, replacing and absorbing the assets of the 3580th PTW. Four operational squadrons (720th, 721st, 722d and 723d) were assigned to the 450th Figher-Bomber Group, initially being equipped with the North American F-86F Sabre.[3] Its aircraft wore an approximation of the stars and stripes, with seven red and six white stripes on the trailing edge, and three stars in white on the blue forward portion of the fin. They also were designated with a colored, scalloped nose chevron.[4]

Along with the 450th, a second group, the 322d Fighter-Bomber Group was assigned to Foster, under the command and control of the 450th FDW. The 322d consisted of the 450th, 451st and 452d Fighter-Bomber Squadrons, also flying the F-86F.[3] Its aircraft wore a broad ban on the fin with its playing card insignia superimposed.[4] The 450th FBG was an operational unit, while the 322d took over the training mission formerly performed by ATC prior to the transfer of the base to TAC.

With these two fighter groups assigned to the base, assigned personnel increased to about 6,000.[1] The primary mission of the 450th FBW was to maintain tactical proficiency for combat operations and to prepare for overseas deployments as part of Ninth Air Force.[3]

In early-1955, the 450th FBW began receiving new North American F-100C/D Super Sabre aircraft, replacing the obsolecent F-86s. The 450th FBW was the first operational Tactical Air Command wing to be equpped with the F-100. With the change of equipment, the wing was redesignated as the 450th Fighter-Day Wing on 8 Mar 1955, with all its subordinate groups and squadrons also being redesignated.[3]

On 8 Jul 1955, Foster AFB became the location of Headquarters, Nineteenth Air Force. Nineteenth AF had no units or aircraft permanently assigned. Its mission was planning and carrying out force protection and rapid response using temporarily attached units deployed to overseas crisis locations. From Foster, Nineteenth AF responded to the 1958 Lebanon crisis, when the United States sent in forces to sustain a pro-Western government after a conflict in Iraq threatened to spill across the border.[3] Also, attached to Ninteenth AF, the 450th FDW carried out the first overseas deployment of a complete tactical force as a unit in a training flight to Europe in 1956. The next year three Foster-based F-100s flew the first TAC single-engine, nonstop, round-trip mission over a great distance when they "attacked" Panama in a training maneuver.[1]

On 1 July 1958, the 450th was redesignated as the 450th Tactical Fighter Wing as part of a worldwide USAF naming reorganization.

Closure

On 28 August 1957, despite the fact that President Dwight D. Eisenhower appropriated funds for new construction at the base, the base was ordered closed by the spring of 1959, with the resident 450th TFW and both groups inactivating.[1] This closure was due to budgetary constraints in the Air Force, however the closing came as a surprise to both Victorians and base commanders.[1]

Nineteenth Air Force was moved to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, effective 1 September 1958. The 450th TFW F-100 aircraft were reassigned to the 4th and 36th Tactical Fighter Wings, and all units assigned to Foster were inactivated by mid-December 1958.[3]

Despite a rigorous "Save Foster" campaign led in Washington by senators Lyndon B. Johnson and Ralph Yarborough and Congressman Clark W. Thompson, the base closed on 31 December 1958.[1] It was formally inactivated effective 1 January 1959 by Department of the Air Force General Order No. 7, dated February 9, 1959.[1] The 450th was reactivated by SAC as a B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombardment wing in 1962 to replace the provisional 4136th Strategic Wing; the 322d as a USAFE C-130 Hercules Tactical Airlift Wing in 1970.[3]

Post military use

The local economy suffered greatly from the closure of Foster AFB. In the summer of 1960, the General Services Administration approved the exchange of Aloe Field for Foster Field, and Victoria County Airport was moved to the latter site. The growth of the county airport slowly replaced the loss of Foster AFB as numerous businesses located there. [1]

Two of the largest businesses to locate at Victoria County Airport were the Devereux Foundation, a therapeutic-education center, and Gary Aircraft, which repaired surplus C-54 Skymaster (Douglas DC-4) aircraft in 1968. In 1976 Foster became the site of Victoria Regional Airport, which provides passenger service and connections with major carriers.[1]

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Roell, Craig H.. "Foster Army Air Field". The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/qcf13.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942-2002, Office of History and Research, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ravenstein, Charles A., Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977, Office of Air Force History, 1984
  4. ^ a b Donald, David. Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War. AIRtime, 2004. ISBN 1-88058-868-4.

External links


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